Former President Donald Trump, who is running for president again, made an incorrect claim about his successor’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine on Wednesday. In an online video, Trump stated that President Joe Biden is “now doing what he said would lead to World War III: he is sending in American tanks.”
Such claims had already gone viral on social media in the aftermath of Biden’s announcement last week that the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. As of Thursday morning, a single Tuesday tweet of a meme image purported to quote Biden as saying on March 11, 2022: “The idea that we’re going to send in tanks to Ukraine, that’s called World War III.”
But that isn’t the entire Biden quote.
First and foremost, both Trump and the viral meme omitted key words from Biden’s March 11, 2022 remark. In reality, Biden did not state unequivocally that sending tanks to Ukraine means World War III. Rather, he asserted that sending American troops into Ukraine with tanks and other military equipment would result in World War III.
The genuine Biden quote On March 11, 2022, Biden made the remark in a speech to the House Democratic caucus. The full video can be viewed here.
Biden had previously stated, “We’re going to make sure Ukraine has the weapons to defend itself from [the] invading Russian force.” “We will defend every inch of NATO territory, every single inch,” he said. He described moving thousands of US troops to areas near Russia’s borders with NATO members (Ukraine is not a NATO member). “To be sure, if we respond, it will be World War III,” he said, “but we have a sacred obligation on NATO territory – a sacred obligation, Article 5.”
“However, we will not fight the Third World War in Ukraine,” Biden added. Then, after vowing that the war in Ukraine would never be a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, he made the comment that his critics are now removing key words from.
“But, look, the idea – the idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and crews, just understand – and don’t kid yourself, no matter what you all say – that’s called ‘World War III,'” Biden said. OK? Let’s get this straight, guys. ‘Don’t kid a kidder,’ as the saying goes.
The phrase “going in with American pilots and crews” is crucial in determining whether Biden had previously warned that the actions he is now taking would result in World War III. While Biden stated last week that the US would send tanks to Ukraine, he has consistently denied the possibility of American troops fighting in Ukraine.
Musk is a source of oxygen.
A request for comment from Trump’s campaign was not returned.
A user with the handle “TaraBull” posted the viral Twitter meme that omitted Biden’s important words. The meme gained traction after billionaire Twitter CEO Elon Musk responded to “TaraBull” by claiming that the war in Ukraine is rapidly escalating.
Later, Twitter’s “community notes” feature added a fact check to the “TaraBull” tweet.
On Tuesday, “TaraBull” criticised fact-checkers in another meme tweet. When CNN asked for comment on Wednesday, “TaraBull” responded with questions expressing concern about how Putin’s possible reaction to Biden’s decision to provide the tanks might affect the US.
Regardless, the alleged Biden quote, which has now been seen by millions, did not accurately convey what Biden said.